Reviews

Adelaide Festival Reviews

Paul Rodda and Nicole Russo review Adelaide Festival attractions. Image: The Sapphires

The Sapphires by Tony Briggs Scott Theatre The Adelaide Festival has brought an outstanding lineup of Motown hits to South Austrlia, neatly rolled into the endearing story of the McCrae sisters and how their lives were transformed when they came to perform in the all-girl singing group The Sapphires for the troops during the Vietnam War.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Opera by Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears and William Shakespeare. Opera Australia. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Director: Baz Luhrmann

Opera Australia served up a visual banquet with this sumptuous performance that had all the hallmarks of a Bollywood extravaganza. While A Midsummer Night’s Dream is short on dazzling tunes, this production is a feast for the eyes. The set was an opulent Gazebo on three levels. In the middle sat the band in their British Raj finest, liberated from the famously cruel Opera Theatre pit. At the bottom was a cave and lake.

RADIANCE by Louis Nowra

Brisbane Arts Theatre. Feb 6 -Mar 6, 2010. Director: Jo Pierce

Following a popular revival of last year’s sell-out season of He Died with a Felafel in his Hand, the official opener of Arts Theatre’s 2010 season is Louis Nowra’s Radiance. Jo Pierce, her splendid indigenous cast of three and the production team deserve high praise for a finely-tuned, engaging production.

The Music of Georgia Stitt

JMY Productions at Randall Theatre, St.Martins Youth Arts Centre. One night only. 22 February, 2010. Director Jordan Reid Ybarzabal. Musical Director Adrian Portell.

As a songwriter Georgia Stitt can be described in one very simple word: honest. Within a few short bars of music she captures and creates amazing emotional energy which can be both raw and poetic all at once. In fact, she invokes the sort of emotion which is distinctively real and personal: some moments can be about the smallest feeling, others can be thrillingly large in their journey and delivery. Early into JMY's concert The Music of Georgia Stitt I realised something so very obvious that it’s a realisation I'm slightly ashamed to repeat.

AVENUE Q Music & Lyrics: Robert Lopez & Jeff Marx. Book: Jeff Whitty

Arts Asia Pacific & Power Arts Production in Association with QPAC Opened 21 February, 2010, Playhouse, QPAC, Brisbane. Director: Jonathan Biggins. Musical Director: Michael Azzopardi

Avenue Q might be the worst address in New York City, but who knew such fun was going on there. This production of the 2003 Tony Award Winning Broadway musical is hilariously funny, outrageously irreverent, and a total cosmic comic blast. A cross between Sesame Street and South Park, 10 actors using hand puppets, tell a contemporary tale about thirty-something’s, ten years out of college and still trying to find a job and their way in life. In a brilliant ensemble cast those that stood out only did so because they got more stage time.

Adelaide Fringe Reviews

Paul Rodda, Nicole Russo, Daniel G. Taylor and Larraine Ball with Adelaide Fringe Festival Reviews. Image: Cole's Girls

Cole’s Girls Eventful Divas. Star Theatres. Cole’s Girls is the brainchild of performers David Gauci and Michael Lindner. It is a dragtastic bastardisation of the music and lyrics of Cole Porter, with hilarious consequences! Think Magda Szubanski’s character Lyn Postlethwaite from Fast Forward singing the hits of Cole Porter and your pretty much on the money here.

The Merchants of Bollywood.

Writer/Director Toby Gough; Choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant; Composers Salim and Sulaiman Merchant; Costume Designer Bipin Tanna; Lighting Design Benedick Miller. The State Theatre, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne until 28 February, then touring nationally

India's Bollywood film industry, we are told at least twice during The Merchants of Bollywood, is responsible for over 800 films a year and 15 million tickets sold in a day … which is all very well and good. Astonishing, in fact, as statistics go. Unfortunately, even with these overwhelming data behind it, this quintessentially cinematic phenomenon doesn't necessarily make for great theatre.

THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED by Douglas Carter Beane

QTC @ Cremorne Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. Opened February 8, 2010. Director: Michael Gow

Douglas Carter Beane’s The Little Dog Laughed is an acutely observed, acerbic American comedy. The plot has a high-profile Hollywood actor, Mitchell, wanting to come-out about his homosexuality, his high-powered agent, Diane, desperately trying to avoid him committing this career suicide, his rent-boy lover, Alex, and Alex’s pregnant girlfriend, Ellen. The plum role is the agent Diane, which won Julie White a Tony on Broadway. Caroline Kennison gets to play it here, but she won’t win any awards for this performance.

Spring Awakening. Book and lyrics by Steven Sater, music by Duncan Sheik, original play by Franz Wedekind.

Sydney Theatre Company / Power Arts. Director: Geordie Brookman. Musical Director: Robert Gavin. Choreographer: Kate Champion. Set Designer: Anna Tregloan. Lighting Designer: Niklas Pajanti. Sydney Theatre until March 7.

There’s nothing new about teenage sexuality, be it straight, gay or masturbation, likewise youth suicide, teen pregnancy or abortion. Rites of passage are timeless.

Franz Wedekind’s controversial expressionist drama Spring Awakening explored these themes in 1891 and was branded pornography. The full-on sex scene which ends act one of this new version may well spark a similar response in certain quarters even now.

The Swimming Club by Hannie Rayson

Melbourne Theatre Company co-production with Black Swan State Theatre Company. Director: Kate Cherry. Set and Costume Designer: Christina Smith. Lighting Designer: Matt Smith. Sound Designer/Composer: Russell Goldsmith. Dramaturg: Michael Cathcart. The Playhouse, Perth, from 31 March – 18th April

A fast paced and lively offering, The Swimming Club is smattered with many humorous and poignant lines delivered by actors with the competency and energy to whisk their characters swiftly from youth to middle age and back again and again. In part a reflection on and comparison between places, eras and times of life, this work identifies some of what is lost and what is gained in the process of living. It also stands as a reminder that we can be thankful we no longer suffer the social mores of the early eighties.

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